They Are Digging in the Wrong Place—Churches with the Wrong Focus


In the classic movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” they were searching for the lost Ark of the Covenant.

Indiana Jones was asked to find the Ark of the Covenant by the U.S. governmentEgypt before the Germans found it. To do so, he needed the headpiece of the staff of Ra.

Once he located the headpiece, he traveled to Cairo, Egypt.

He went there to find a person who could translate the language on the headpiece.

The headpiece was designed to reveal the location of the Well of the Souls in the Map Room at Tanis.

As the translator looked at the bronze medallion, he translated the inscription on the front.

Then he turned it over and found specific instructions on the back that showed the length of the staff and the location where to insert the staff in the Map Room in Tanis.

The Nazis had a replica of the medallion; however, it did not have the inscription on the back like the original headpiece.

As soon as the translator shared this critical information, Indiana Jones looked at his friend and, with laughter, they both said simultaneously,

“They are digging in the wrong place.”

Could it be that we are digging in the wrong place in ministry today?

Are we going in the wrong direction in the church today?

In her book, Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith, Jana Magruder shares important information that we need to note.

Many churches today provide the following ministry opportunities for children and their families:

  • Sunday school or small group Bible study for children
  • Children’s worship/children’s church
  • Church social activities for children/teens
  • Vacation Bible School for children
  • Church camps/retreats for children/teens
  • Youth group/youth worship for teens

Parents are involved in certain spiritual activities that they believe will impact their child’s faith.

  • 62% attend Sunday School or small group Bible study for children
  • 54% attend Vacation Bible School
  • 50% attend youth group/youth worship for teens
  • 50% participate in church social activities for children/teens
  • 47% attend children’s worship/children’s church
  • 44% attend church camps/retreats for children/teens

Both the church and families believe that these activities will build a child’s faith.

However, according to Magruder, this does not line up with the research that she found.

The top four predictors of faith in young adults are:

  1. Child regularly reads the Bible while growing up.
  2. Child regularly spends time in prayer while growing up.
  3. Child regularly serves in the church while growing up.
  4. Child participates in church mission trips/projects.

Interestingly enough, these are not the church’s priorities for families.

We are digging in the wrong place in many of our churches today.

We are focusing on what is having the least impact on a child’s spiritual life.

All the while, research shows us what truly produces disciples of Christ: being in the Word of God, prayer, serving in the church, and being on a mission for Christ.

For the past 21 years, L.I.T. has made this the focus of our ministry.

We teach children spiritual disciplines that sustain a life of faith: daily Bible study, prayer, serving in the church using their spiritual gifts, and going outside of the church on mission.

Here is a comparison chart of L.I.T. and other mid-week programs used in churches today.

L.I.T. focuses on four priorities:

  1. Family—Equipping parents to disciple their children.
  2. Discipleship—Equipping teachers to become disciple-makers, whereas the mentee learns to become a mentor; the player becomes a coach.
  3. Ministry Involvement—Empowering children to use their spiritual gifts through serving in the local church.
  4. Missions—Equipping children to fulfill their role in the Great Commission both locally and to the ends of the earth.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

unnamed 9Dr. Clint May has observed an incredible move of God during 31 preteen mission trips in the past 20 years. His book documents how the Holy Spirit works in powerful ways when they join the Lord on His Great Commission.